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All Blacks team for RWC Final against France

allblacks.com     21 Oct 2011    

Starting XV:

1. Tony Woodcock (82)
2. Keven Mealamu (91)
3. Owen Franks (30)
4. Brad Thorn (58)
5. Samuel Whitelock (24)
6. Jerome Kaino (47)
7. Richie McCaw – captain (102)
8. Kieran Read (35)
9. Piri Weepu (55)
10. Aaron Cruden (8)
11. Richard Kahui (16)
12. Ma’a Nonu (65)
13. Conrad Smith (54)
14. Cory Jane (30)
15. Israel Dagg (11)

Reserves:

16. Andrew Hore (61)
17. Ben Franks (15)
18. Ali Williams (72)
19. Adam Thomson (24)
20. Andy Ellis (25)
21. Stephen Donald (22)
22. Sonny Bill Williams (13)

Number of Test caps in brackets



The All Blacks will again field a hugely experienced team, with 708 caps in the starting XV, with the side again captained by flanker Richie McCaw in his 103rd Test. The only change on the bench sees Adam Thomson, who has recovered from his high ankle strain, replace Victor Vito.

Graham Henry said: “This is the biggest game of the players’ lives and there is obvious excitement and anticipation at what lies ahead. To be playing in the Final of the Rugby World Cup in front of our home crowd is going to be massive and a very special occasion for the team as well as our fans. The support the team has received from New Zealanders throughout the Tournament has been incredibly humbling and we know the country will be right behind us on Sunday night.”

Meanwhile, a number of milestones will be achieved by various All Blacks this weekend.

McCaw and fellow loose forwards Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read will become the most-capped loose forward trio in All Blacks history, playing their 21st Test together, one more than the trio of McCaw, Rodney So’oialo and Jerry Collins.

Keven Mealamu will play in his 92nd Test joining All Blacks great Sean Fitzpatrick as the most capped All Blacks hooker of all time and the joint third most capped All Black behind McCaw and Mils Muliaina.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, Aaron Cruden will be playing in his ninth Test for the All Blacks compared, interestingly, with Grant Fox who was playing in just his seventh Test match in the 1987 Rugby World Cup Final, while it was Andrew Mehrtens’ sixth Test match in the 1995 Final.

The All Blacks have played France 50 times since 1906, with 37 wins to the All Blacks, 12 to France and the one draw. The teams have played five times at the Rugby World Cup, with the 37- 17 Pool Play win to the All Blacks in this year’s Tournament the last match. The All Blacks beat France in the 1987 Final and in the 3rd /4th playoff match in 2003 with France scoring significant victories over the All Blacks in the 1999 Semifinal and 2007 Quarterfinal.